by Adam Wolnski | Photography Anthony Scarlati
You might know Meghan Linsey as the runner-up in the popular TV singing competition The Voice, as the winner of another singing competition Can You Duet?, from the group Steel Magnolia, or maybe this is your first time hearing about her. Regardless of your previous knowledge of Linsey, when you hear her powerful voice dripping with soul, you may cry, you may wreck your car or drop your dinner, but you won’t forget her name.
Ron Browning, Linsey’s vocal coach since she started on The Voice, didn’t soon forget her. “I really feel that she could very easily be the next big and important singer to come along,” Browning said. “I mean, seriously, this little gal is made of the same legendary fabric that singers like Aretha, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Bonnie Raitt—all those gals are made of.”
Browning works with names like Alison Krauss, Wynonna and Naomi Judd, Patti LaBelle, Allen Stone, RaeLynn, Lennon and Maisy, and more that he couldn’t mention because of confidentiality agreements. So when he says that she is a “master of style that makes you stop and listen,” it packs a punch.
“He changed my life,” Linsey said of Browning. “I learned so much. He really taught me to protect my voice, my instrument, ’cause that’s so important . . . I was hitting notes I didn’t know I could hit; he really made a difference in the way I sing.”
Linsey isn’t new to the spotlight, but she knows from experience that the fame and stardom can slip away just as quickly as it comes. “It’s more about just living in the present,” Linsey said. “Obviously you have to plan for the future, but I try to live in the moment and enjoy each moment, and really be present. I learned a lot watching Pharrell on [The Voice], actually, because you can tell that’s just how he lives his whole life.”
The present for Linsey is currently moving toward soul . . . rather, back to soul. The New Orleans native grew up in a legendary city for soul music, but felt a strong draw toward country when she moved to Nashville. But after the breakup of Steel Magnolia, Linsey felt like she was fighting her natural style to continue in the very established country-music mold.
“For me I just wanted to make the kind of record that I wanted to make,” Linsey said. “It was easier to go back to my roots and do something more soulful, and I think in pop music it’s almost encouraged to push the envelope, whereas if you wanna get played on country radio it’s almost like you have to fit within these confines, you know?” The Voice was a great platform for Linsey to make the transition for her existing fans and to make plenty of new ones.
Tune in to PBS on July 4 to watch Meghan Linsey perform with the National Symphony in Washington, DC, for the 4th of July show, A Capitol Fourth. For more information visit www.meghanlinsey.com.